Monday, March 26, 2018

The Cutest Training Partner

            While the two boys are napping, I head out to the garage for, what is typically, my second workout of the day. Some days it might be a run and a quick lift. Other days involve a bike workout. Baya is past the age of naps, and so she will often come out with me and keep me company. She is good at keeping busy and preoccupying herself.
            Last fall, Baya actually got rid of her training wheels, with the goal of doing some BMX racing this summer (you can’t race with training wheels). The garage isn’t big enough to ride her bike around though, so she’ll often ride Myles’s tricycle around instead. This last weekend though, her Daddy built her a sweet upgrade so she can now bike indoors “like her mom.” I think she rode her bike for 20 minutes straight today on her "bike trainer" while I ran. She thought I should have been biking too, but after almost 2 hours on my bike yesterday, there was no way I was getting on it today! After my run, we both did a little weight lifting.
            We do not push youth sports in our house, but we do want to raise our kids to have an active lifestyle, and we want to lead by example. Our kids have seen us coach and workout. Last fall, Baya even biked alongside me when I pushed the boys while running. When we were biking around the neighborhood together this last weekend, we talked about biking and racing. I told her that I race my bike in triathlons. She said that I will probably beat everyone. That girl sets the bar pretty high. I better not let her down!

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Back in the Saddle

            When I announced a hiatus from triathlon, I really thought it would actually be a full retirement. I thought about selling my gear, including my precious bike. I barely touched my race bike for 14 months. I barely did any distance running, and I had no interest in pursuing just running races. I swam twice a week, usually, for fun, but otherwise triathlon felt like a thing of the past.
            I started running a little more in the fall, but mostly just for the exercise. Then I started adding in some threshold work because it was challenging and made me feel good afterwards. I increased my swimming to three times per week in mid-October. In December, I got my bike set up on the trainer. Getting back on wasn’t so bad. Actually, it was kind of good. I did a few 30 minute rides, just for fun, just to see what kind of watts I could do. A couple weeks in, I did a FTP (Functional Threshold) test, and I was at 200 watts. My last known FTP? In 2013, I was around 209. That was also at a time where I was performing very well. While I strove to match that every year, in reality I don’t think I ever made it back to that level of power. By the end of December, I was eyeing a race. Not just any race. A HALF-IRON DISTANCE race.
            I’ve spent the last 2 months gearing up for it. Less than 4 months until race day (June 23rd). I’m planning on it being a “one and done” race for the summer, so I can have more freedom to do fun stuff with the kids, without the obligation of training. The biggest thing – I want to enjoy the process. So far I am loving it! I really never thought I’d feel this way again.
I’ve surpassed training goals already and I’m feeling great! There isn’t any perceived pressure from being sponsored either. One of my first rides back was 2x10’ (5’) @ 190 watts. I’ve already worked up to 4x21’ (1.5’) @ 190 watts (1:24 total at Goal Race Effort)! I wanted to work up to running 4 miles at 7’ (threshold) by the end of February, and I’ve done multiple 5 mile runs at threshold and felt GOOD!
It’s also an emotional journey. “Feeling good” has not been normal for me over the past year. With my hemoglobin, iron, and ferritin having tanked after Rowyn’s birth, it took a long time to come back from that. I struggled to go slow. I struggled to breathe, to move, and I was not myself. As a result, I’m all the more determined, but also overwhelmed with feeling blessed. It has changed my perspective on triathlon. It is now a gift. And what’s even better – I think I can come back and kick some butt.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Badger State Games: Nordic Skiing

            Rachael and I arrived at Nine Mile only 15 minutes before our race was set to start after being delayed that morning.  We quick picked up our shirts and bibs, had a bathroom break, ran shirts back to the vehicle, and put our skis on for the very first time ever, with only 3 minutes to spare before the 21K classic was starting! Crazy!
My first fall was just after we got started, which was followed by many more (at least TWELVE to be more precise)! We also missed a turn at the bottom of a hill (it was poorly marked). We would have had really fast times if it weren’t for all those delays! The course was really icy and scary even.  In fact, when I saw a caution sign at the top of one hill, a lady, who was an experienced skier, suggested taking off our skis and carrying them down the hill – and that’s exactly what I did! I had no advantage (except that I didn’t die at the bottom) so I hope that wasn’t breaking any rules. Prior to that hill, I had a couple really bad wipeouts, one in which I think I left some skin behind on the icy trail.  I was hurting so bad at that point, that I was terrified of the downhills!
            Going up the hills was a struggle and we got worked.  It was a lot of upper body.  The second half of the course was less intense and the flatter sections with gentler hills were actually a lot of fun.  All of the big hills seemed to always have a sharp turn at the bottom of them too. The race was a lot more technical, and slick, than I was anticipating.
            All of my training had been on waxless skis on non-groomed trails, which was pretty slow going and much more controlled.  This was nothing like that! We borrowed wax skis. The course was groomed with big hills, and it was warm the previous day, which iced everything over.  It was a completely different ball game.  We did really well though and ended up 5th and 6th overall (I was 3rd in my age group and Rachael was 1st in hers)! There were a lot of laughs, bruises, and exhaustion, but it was a worthwhile experience.  As Rachael put it, “It’s great to do something with the goal of just finishing!” My body is in a great deal of pain but the memories and laughs will outlast that.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Off to the Races!

            January 27th will mark the day of my first cross-country ski race! I’ll be going down to Wausau for winter Badger State Games with a friend and fellow track coach. I did a lot of skiing last year (averaged 4-5x/week) and skied a lot between Christmas and New Years this year, but have since discovered that the reality of skiing with 3 littles is next to impossible.  I did it once by myself with Rowyn in the front pack, be he has outgrown that.  The straps for the back carrier interfere with the harness of the chariot and Baya said she can’t hang on the back for very long if I pull her on her skis behind it.  She does love using her skis on her own though!
Nice scenery for skiing!
            So now I’ve been going once/week by myself for a long ski and been working up to 2 hours. I’m counting on swim/bike/run fitness to get me the rest of the way. I’m still on non-groomed trails and have waxless skis, so my pace is far from impressive, and I look forward to seeing what it will be like in a race.  It may very well take me a long time. We are dong the 21K (roughly a half-marathon) classic ski race.  If I don’t line up wax skis for us, I’ll pick up some wax that is designed for waxless skis.  Nevertheless, I think it will be a fun experience!
            I love BSG events, so I’m glad this is the race I’ll be doing.  It will be my 4th different BSG event (duathlon, swimming, and track thus far), but my first winter one! Since December, I have been training, and it feels great.  Skiing will be a fun adventure as my focus on the next big thing intensifies.  I’ll announce what that will be soon!

Monday, December 4, 2017

Hunger Pains

            I’m craving competition.  I’m feeling strong again and I’m getting restless with just working out.  I’m tempted to do a ski race (for fun and for the challenge of it).  Logistically, 3 kids will be a lot tougher to train with for skiing than 2 were.  There is also a USATF indoor track meet that I am eyeing.  Even without any jumps practice, I’m tempted to do it anyway.  The drive to the Twin Cities for it, and juggling things with 3 littles is a turn-off though.
Skiing Nov 11th this year! (The only day we could so far)
            I’ve been swimming REALLY well and working on building up some run mileage again (shooting for over 20 miles/week right now).  I feel so good in the pool, strong and FAST, that it makes me want to do triathlons again.  Feeling strong makes a big difference.  It’s not just the weight lifting, it’s also having my iron levels up.  My body doesn’t feel as fatigued.  My engine is firing on all cylinders.  My last year (or 2) of racing, I didn’t feel strong.  I felt like I was just trying to push through it.  My best races were when I would get off the bike and felt strong, even if I just biked 56 miles.  After having Myles, I never really felt that way again.  Even workouts were a challenge.  I just didn’t feel good.  After World’s in Cozumel, I thought I was really just retiring from the sport altogether.  This past year off was necessary, but now that I’m feeling good, it has me thinking about it again.
            I ran a super low-key Turkey Trot at Thanksgiving with my husband. We started conservatively (granted it was also 20 degrees out and slick with a dusting of snow).  A Cross Country girl took it out fast and held the lead for over a mile before we started closing the gap.  With over a mile to go, we left her behind.  But it’s not the win that gets me. After all, you can’t determine who is going to show up on race day.  But it’s how I felt overtaking her.  I comfortably pushed.  I felt good.  I felt strong (23:53 helps that feeling – heck, I once ran a whole marathon at that pace in my prime!). It’s not the pace; it’s the feeling.  It’s being able to make the last mile, the fastest mile.  It’s about being able to be aggressive at the end, to be able to push when it’s time to push.  It’s all about feeling strong. Now I just need something to work towards.